The sound of one horse clopping

As this interview reveals, "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" would've fallen flat without its stomping, snorting supporting cast.

Published June 16, 2001 7:00PM (EDT)

The rerelease of the comedy classic "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" has brought renewed attention to King Arthur's trusty steed in the movie. The 29-year-old horse -- actually two empty coconut shell halves that were banged together by Terry Gilliam, who played Arthur's servant, Patsy -- is living at a retirement home for Foley props just outside London.

Salon spoke to the horse by phone about the movie, his career and tropical fruit.

Why do you think "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" has been such an enduring favorite?

I think it's the horses, really. I mean, if I may be so bold. People just love the great, charging, stomping, snorting horses. Very medieval, that. Not to toot my own trumpet or anything, but I think we horses really came through.

You're not a real horse, you know.


You're not a real horse. You're two coconut shell halves, and they banged you together to make the sound of horses' hooves.


Uh, so don't you think audiences responded more to the comedy than to the horses?

Comedy? Nothing funny about the Arthur legend, my boy. Great battles, wizards, the brave knights, the quest for the Grail, horses ...

But the movie was a parody of all that.

Are you saying you didn't like it?

No! I loved it! I could practically recite the whole thing when I was a kid. But ... Well, never mind. So I guess you're not a big fan of comedy.

On the contrary. I enjoy one show you chaps have over there: "Gilligan's Island." I like a good coconut joke, and I can't think of another show that does coconut humor as well as that one. Or as often. That sound it makes when a coconut hits Gilligan in the head -- that's not the real sound of a coconut, you know, but -- ho! -- I get a right good chuckle out of it every time.

What have you been up to since "Holy Grail"?

Well, I don't mind telling you, it hasn't all been cushty mushty, old friend. There were some rough times for a while there, but since I've come to the home here, as we call it, everything's been lovely. I share a suite with one of those slide whistles and a big tin sheet that makes the sound of thunder. They're a couple. I don't judge these things, you know. Take them as they are, that's my way.

Do you ever see any of the members of Monty Python anymore?

Members of what?

Monty Python.

Never heard of him. A horseman, is he?

You never did any other movies after "Holy Grail"?

I did hoof-overs on a few cartoons, and I played a bit on a recording of "Don't Fence Me In" by Take Five, but show business just wasn't my cup of tea.

What is your cup of tea?

Well, tea, now that you mention it. Ho ho! I do love a good spot of tea. And some macaroons.

So, even though --

Speaking of comedy, that's a funny word, lad. "Macaroons." Makes you chuckle just to say it, what?

Ha. Uh, yeah. Funny. So --

Fallopian tubes.


Another funny word. And monkey. Ha! You just can't say monkey without a good chortle!

Right. So you say show business isn't your cup of tea, but you'll probably start getting offers now that the movie's being rereleased. Are you not interested at all?

Well, if the right offer came along, I might just come out of my shell and take a crack at it.

Ha ha! Shell! Crack at it! Good one!


By King Kaufman

King Kaufman is a senior writer for Salon. You can e-mail him at king at salon dot com. Facebook / Twitter / Tumblr

MORE FROM King Kaufman

Related Topics ------------------------------------------